Study Shows Link Between Alcohol & Breast Cancer
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A lot of us unwind after a tough day with a drink. But sobering new research says just a few of those a week could put some women's health at risk. Alcohol is one of the risk factors for breast cancer - but until now, no one knew why.
New research might help women save their own lives when it comes to how much they drink.
"Laughter is the best medicine for me," said breast cancer survivor, Kim Mickelson. Mickelson was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.
"We come here a lot just to relax and be ourselves," said Cathy Helmsing who was diagnosed in October of 2011.
Both come to Gilda's club in Madison for support from those who have also fought to live.
"We've become great friends through our time here," said Mickelson.
After what they've endured Cathy and Kim feel the more knowledge the better when it comes to their health.
"I don't want to do anything to help the cancer come back," said Helmsing.
And for some women alcohol could be the enemy. One Harvard study found having just three to six glasses of wine a week increases a woman's risk for breast cancer by 15 percent. But until now, nobody new why.
New research points the finger at an enzyme that breaks down the alcohol you put in your body. The women who have higher levels of that enzyme could be more at risk for breast cancer, if they drink.
"Alcohol's chemical properties can have direct effects on the breast tissue," said Dr. Kelly Lynch, the medical director of oncology at Bellin Hospital's Cancer Center. She hopes this knowledge will lead to one more way women can protect themselves.
"Every day after work you are coming home and having two nightcaps, or having regular exposure to alcohol over many years, that does increase your risk," said Lynch.
And Kim hopes other women are listening to their doctors and the new research.
"I don't want anyone to go through what I've gone through. So if you can reduce your odds, just put that other glass to the side."
Not every woman's body produces a higher level of this enzyme, the hope down the road - develop a test to identify the women who do.
Then doctor's can then let them know they might be at a greater risk if they choose to drink.